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Medical Malpractice 101: Misdiagnosis And Failure To Diagnose

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Medical malpractice law encapsulates a wide variety of issues that arise from a medical professional causing harm to a patient. With so many different types of claims, medical malpractice makes up 15% of all personal injury cases, second only to motor vehicle accidents. One form medical malpractice can take is misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose. Learn exactly what these types of medical malpractice cases are and you will be able to tell if you have a reasonable claim.

The basic requirements

In order for a medical malpractice attorney to pursue any time of medical malpractice case, it has to meet a few basic requirements. In a claim for misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose, the first requirement is that a doctor-patient relationship existed when the alleged error in diagnosis occurred. The next requirement is that this doctor’s error escalated to the level of negligence. The final requirement is that the patient suffered harm because of this negligence.

What entails a negligent diagnosis?

In any medical malpractice case, a doctor acts negligently when they fail to provide the standard of care that another reasonably competent doctor would have provided under similar circumstances. To prove this negligence in a legal case, medical malpractice attorneys typically bring in another doctor with experience in the type of medical problem involved in the case for expert testimony.

In the case of improper diagnosis, the expert will typically discuss the differential diagnosis that a reasonably competent doctor would have given the patient. This is a list that the expert compiles of possible medical problems that could be causing the patient’s symptoms and the resulting diagnosis that the expert finds after ruling out the other possibilities on the list. With this diagnosis, the patient and their lawyer can prove the proper medical standard of care. The next step is to prove that the patient’s doctor in question did not achieve that standard. These are a few of the ways doctors may fail to achieve that standard:

  • They didn’t include an important medical problem on the initial differential diagnosis list.
  • They inaccurately conducted or interpreted a test that caused a mistake in eliminating possibilities on the list.
  • They failed to realize the urgency of one of the possible medical problems and delayed the diagnosis.
  • A nurse failed to provide the correct diagnostic medication, altering the patient’s response and leading the doctor to the incorrect conclusion.

An improper diagnosis or the failure to diagnose can seriously harm a patient. Whether that harm is in the form of costly medical bills, pain and suffering, or even death, the patient or their family may be able to seek justice by contacting a medical malpractice attorney. Call Rossman Law to speak with an experienced attorney today.